I can't believe it's been seven years. Seven years since I turned on the t.v. while getting ready for a day trip to San Fransisco, and saw smoke billowing from the World Trade Center. It was my first wedding anniversary, and I had taken some of my meager vacation time to have some fun. The blood drained from my face, as I stared at that gaping hole with people milling about inside. Smoke, thick and black poured from the building. Before the newscaster said the words, I knew it was an attack. What else could it be?
As I watched, the second plane hit, and it was certain, America was under attack. Nobody knew who it was, nobody knew why, but we were a target, and there was no way of telling if it was over, or if there would be more damage. Before the day was out, the Pentagon was hit, all flights were grounded, and an ordinary man did something quite extraordinary:Upon learning of the attacks, he rallied his fellow passengers and sacrificed himself for people he did not know. It was a moment worthy of any John Wayne film, as Todd Beamer and a handful of passengers took the fight to the enemy, right there on the plane.
I stayed glued to the screen for the rest of the day, and for much of the following few. We made it to S.F. a day or two later, but it wasn't the same. Nothing has been the same since. America, MY America, was forever changed. Some of the changes were good, like admiration and respect for Police Officers and Firefighters. Some of the changes were terrible, like the hand-wringing race to pass laws to prevent a recurrence. The growth of the TSA caused me to swear off flying commercially for good.
I remember as a child in grade school, watching the dreams of a generation explode across the sky as the Challenger exploded. Few things have affected me as deeply since. The assault on the World Trade Center had that effect, that immediate sense that my world would never be the same. As an adult of 24, I lost my innocence on September 11th. America was no longer an untouchable giant, solid and resolute. A mighty blow was struck, and the colossus was brought to her knees, wavering and bloody. She arose with a terrible anger and lashed out, perhaps not entirely in the right direction, but certainly dispensing overdue justice to a number of deserving individuals.
Nothing was ever the same, and the world was changed in an instant. I still can't believe it was seven years ago. It seems like it was someone else watching that screen....